It all began on Memorial Day 1959 in Callaway Gardens, Georgia, USA. At that time, an estimated 13,000 spectators enjoyed the thrills of the birth of this event. Fifty years later, we celebrated the golden anniversary of the Masters Waterski and Wakeboard tournament in style over this past weekend. To witness a successful partnership between Callaway Gardens and CorrectCraft Inc, who produce the Nautique line of boats, which has survived and prospered over a full half century, is quite a feat in today's business environment.
In spite of the unusually cool and damp weather, both the atmosphere and level of performances on the water were exceptional. Participating in the 50th Masters was also a special experience for both the athletes and spectators who crowded the Pavilion Grandstand and beaches at Robin Lake.
The 50th Masters, as usual, was full of both outstanding performances and heartbreak moments. To see the complete results, go to www.masterswaterski.com
The Junior Masters kicked off the event on Friday and Saturday. The scores achieved indicated clearly that the future is bright for both Waterskiing and Wakeboard. Robin Lake Course Records were broken twice in Tricks by 16 year old Iris Cambray from Limoges in France. Martin Kolman, aged 17 from Czech Republic, took the Junior Men Overall Waterski title with outstanding performances in Tricks and Jump. Caroline Hensley, aged 18 from Tennessee, USA, took medals in all three events to capture the Junior Overall Women's title. In Junior Men Wakeboard, it was 16 year old Steel Lafferty from Florida, USA, who beat some very strong Australian opposition to take the Junior Masters title.
The traditional Masters Nautique Boat Parade at Callaway Gardens on Sunday presented all the finalists to both the on-site spectators and the global Webcast audience on www.masterslive.net. In Women's Slalom, Australia's Karina Nowlan sustained a shoulder injury but still came out on top with a score of 3 buoys on the 11.25m line / 38 off. In Men's Slalom, World Record Holder Chris Parrish USA was forced into second place behind the victor and past World Slalom Champion, Will Asher GBR, with a score of 2 buoys on the short 10.25m line / 41 off.
Tricks came next with some major surprises. Clementine Lucine FRA , who has three pending World Records, did not have a great day even though she made it to all three Masters Finals. It was the youngest competitor, Canada's 19 year old Whitney McClintock, who took this title with a score of 8250 points. The Men's 12,400 points World Record holder Nicolas LeForestier stunned the crowd when he went down early on his first pass, reducing his score to 8310 points. The defending Masters and current World Cup Tricks Champion Jimmy Siemers USA, dominated once again with a score of 11,590 points to take the title.
Wakeboard came next. These days it is almost taken for granted that World Cup Champion and defending Masters Champion, Dallas Friday, will beat any competition. This time around, it was the 17 year old Wake Games Champion and South African born Nicola Butler GBR who continued her winning form by taking this Masters title. Again, World Cup Champion Phillip Soven USA, has been almost unbeatable over the past few seasons. However, two-time IWSF World Champion and Tennessee born Andrew Adkison just edged ahead this time to take the 50th Masters title.
Finally, as the Nautique boat entered the Jump arena, the enthusiastic crowd were on their toes for the last time at this 50th Masters. Conditions were good. Marie Vympranietsova from Athens, Greece, was first on the Ramp. Her distance of 48.5m / 159 feet caught all by surprise. Even World Champion Ageliki Andriopoulou, also from Athens, could not beat this. With just the reigning Masters Jump Champion to go, Vympranietsova was in the lead. Denmark's June Fladborg had a real challenge on her hands. However, her flawless 52.4m / 172 ft performance left no doubt on who was the 50th Masters Jump Champion.
In the Men's Jump Final, the defending Masters Jump Champion and World Record Holder, Freddy Krueger USA, was last off the dock. Most expected him to be the one to beat. Canada's nine time Masters Champion, Jaret Llewellyn, laid down a marker with a distance of 68.0m / 223 ft. Jason Seels GBR and six time European Jump Champion, pushed this up to 68.2m / 224ft. Only Kruger could now alter the leader table. His second attempt scored a distance of 70.4m / 231ft - and captured yet another Jump title to add to his enormous collection.
At the closing ceremony at Callaway Gardens, Kuno Ritschard, President of the International Water Ski Federation, made a special 50th Golden Anniversary presentation in appreciation of their half century of success together to Bill Yeargin, President and CEO of CorrectCraft Inc and Tim Chason, Vice President of Callaway Gardens, to mark this unique occasion.
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